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03.29.17

Recognising the Death of Software Patents, Microsoft’s Largest Ally in India Belatedly Joins the Linux-Centric Open Invention Network

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But Microsoft carries on with its usual tricks, this time calling them “Azure IP Advantage”… (Microsoft-armed trolls attacking Azure’s rivals and non-customers)

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: With the demise of software patents come some interesting new developments, including the decision at Infosys — historically very close to Microsoft and a proponent of software patents — to join the Open Invention Network (OIN)

OVER the past month or so we’ve published 10 articles about Microsoft siccing patent trolls on GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. It’s already happening on the face of it (we have since our last article learned that the Toyota patent deal covers “OS” and “file systems”, i.e. Linux), and LG adopts similar tactics that prevent responsibility/reaction by ‘proxifying’ to trolls (see this old cartoon about it — one that we’ve just ‘massaged’ or flattened to fit our layout above). This is the kind of thing OIN was supposed to protect against, but we have hardly seen any evidence of effective defense (OIN told one such tale about half a decade ago, but nothing since).

“OIN cannot guard against this.”The idea that OIN will somehow ‘snatch’ patents before they reach trolls (even where Microsoft arranges for others’ passage, e.g. from Nokia to MOSAID/Conversant) assumes that Microsoft is naïve. See what happened with CPTN. OIN cannot guard against this. OIN is not the solution to the core issue, which is patents on software. OIN stakeholders, in particular the large ones, don’t want patents on software to stop. They want GNU/Linux and they want patents on software too; they want the impossible!

Over in India, thanks to vigilant populace and local businesses, software patents have been kept illegal all these years. Infosys, a Microsoft proxy which had a change of heart on software patents (because they’re impossible to attain/enforce), joins the Open Invention Network this week [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s rather surprising, but given the nationality of Infosys (Indian), this is not entirely shocking. Their CEO has actually lashed out at software patents — a move which we very much welcome.

“OIN is not the solution to the core issue, which is patents on software.”Over in the United States, there is still some uncertainty over the death of software patents. Companies generally know that courts are hostile towards software patents (the higher the court, the more hostile) and fewer of them — albeit not all — dare sue. It’s the initiation of a long and expensive process which typically yields nothing after Alice (only court and lawyers’ fees).

IAM, an enemy of India [1, 2, 3] and a proponent of software patents (also the mouthpiece of patent trolls, as we last showed yesterday), worries about an impending SCOTUS ruling which would most likely further inhibit patent trolls and software patents in the US. IAM wrote the following yesterday:

As anyone with even a cursory interest in patents could tell you, this means that as things stand a large proportion of patent suits are concentrated in the Eastern District of Texas, which because of its handling of issues such as discovery and early case motions, is perceived to be particularly plaintiff friendly.

Because it is. And it’s even advertising itself as such! So much for justice! It’s like a disciplinary committee under Battistelli, which evidently continues to be a problem [PDF].

“Over in the United States, there is still some uncertainty over the death of software patents.”According to this new article (sheltered behind a paywall, as usual), the USPTO is probably realising that software patents are a thing of the past. To quote the summary:

Recent Federal Circuit decisions, and updated Guidance issued by the USPTO have provided practitioners with a new roadmap to navigate the minefield left in the wake of the “Alice” case.

Alice, as we repeatedly noted last year, is here to stay. There are no signs that Justices will revisit the matter (patentability of software) any time soon. Instead, again behind paywall, Justices now look into other matters. MIP give paying subscribers a glimpse at what happens in Impression v Lexmark (oral arguments). It’s a SCOTUS patent case which along with TC Heartland will quite likely further restrict patent scope in the US (a much-needed and overdue reform).

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